Yes, it's true. California has announced that manufacturers will no longer be able to sell new gasoline-fueled vehicles in the state within the next decade. As reported by The New York Times, these new laws which will join the many other strict emission standards will be accepted by California Air Resources Board. California is the second largest user of motor gasoline, accounting for 10% of the country's total consumption in 2021. To try and beat these records and push ahead of the curve in the fight against global warming, California has aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
This new law in regards to ending the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 (and all medium and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045) in California will likely pave the way for many other states to follow. Electric vehicles (EVs) have already grown in popularity over recent years due to record-breaking gas prices, tax incentives and the rising awareness of emission damage within the environment.
What does this mean for the State of California?
The bill would require a transformation of the state's utilities/energy sector to help create more charging stations for zero-emission vehicles to accommodate the increase in electric vehicles on the road. Also, considering California is the second-largest consumer of electricity, having had to import 30% of its electric energy from countries like Mexico in 2020, the industry will need a complete overhaul. Solar and other energy sources may need to be considered.
Production of EV vehicles to an extent that they become affordable to the average consumer will also be vital. Some of the ways car manufacturers make them more affordable is by offering a range of models with different battery sizes, and by reducing the cost of batteries.
The key to making electric vehicles more affordable is to reduce the price of lithium-ion batteries. A battery pack for an electric vehicle costs up to $20,000. The price of a Tesla battery pack is about $132 per kilowatt hour (kWh), however, battery prices have decreased by 97% since 1990.
Tesla has been able to reduce its costs by designing the car from the ground up as an electric vehicle and using economies of scale from its Gigafactory in Nevada. The cost of batteries can also be reduced by improving their energy density, which refers to how much energy can be stored in a given amount of space.
"Whether or not these requirements are realistic or achievable is directly linked to external factors like inflation, charging and fuel infrastructure, supply chains, labor, critical mineral availability and pricing, and the ongoing semiconductor shortage," said John Bozzella, President of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation to the New York Times.
The California Energy Commission and the state government have proposed a plan to prepare for the transition to more electric vehicles on the road. The plan proposes that California will need to invest billions in charging infrastructure, create incentives for electric vehicle ownership and adopt policies that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.
What next for the auto industry?
As of 2026, real changes will start to be made regarding the automotive industry when 35% of all new automobiles must be super efficient vehicles (SEV), including all passenger cars and trucks. Every year this percentage will increase until it reaches 100% in 2035. Manufacturers will have the next three or so years to ensure their facilities are updated to accommodate these laws – something a little easier to do for brands that have already set goals to become more efficient in the coming years, such as Tesla, Nissan and BMW.
Other sectors of the industry, from engineering to mechanics will need to completely retrain and redevelop their own skills to include the ability to work with EVs. As the years pass and older fuel models are traded in for new EVs, education surrounding the industry will obviously adapt, meaning that "old dogs" will have to learn new tricks to remain relevant in their careers and sustain their businesses.
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